A review of the past 4 years with a look through 200 Trump cartoons and commentary by Graeme MacKay.
It’s the eve of another U.S. Presidential election and again the usual refrain of this being the most important vote in a generation is being loudly trumpeted. The Republican party is fighting for a second term for the White House whose champion opponents are decrying as a dangerous, lying, narcissistic clown, a man who sullies the prestige of the office he holds, whose re-election will further doom the USA. The Democrats are battling to regain the White House with a leader Republicans warn is senile, with an unremarkable 47-year-old political record that’ll hand the reins of power over to younger forces of socialism. Read this as my sequel to what I wrote on Inauguration day 2017.
Back then I asked a few questions of the coming Trump presidency. Reading what I wrote is like entering a time capsule of forgotten problems. ISIS? That’s all but vanished. Syria? It simmers but it’s no where the top concern it was in 2017. Cuba? Most of the Obama pursuits to warm relations have been erased, but nobody really cares in the USA of 2020 because there are so many other gargantuan domestic U.S. problems. Does Trump have a plan to replace Obamacare? Answer, no, and no also to reversing affordable health care, but more about that later. Has he lived up to his promise of a rejuvenated American rust belt that he campaigned on in 2016? We’ll have a good idea once we find out how Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania votes in the next few hours. Is he as chummy with Vladimir Putin as we’ve been led to believe? That was the easiest question I don’t need to answer in 2020, since we all know. Has he bridged the racial divide as he said he’d do at the start of his Presidency? Well, is he, the greatest President since Abraham Lincoln for racial relations in the USA, as he boastfully declares himself?
Ronald Reagan’s recycled “Make America Great Again”, meets Ronald Reagan’s “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” in the Trump era. The first one we see and hear all the time rather exhaustingly, the latter phase, never.
The overriding argument of truth against extending the Donald Trump golf cart presidency is his colossal failure to effectively respond with common sense by acting on health guidance to curtail the infection spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the eve of the 2020 U.S. election, the deaths attributed to Coronavirus infection stands at just under 240,000. It is the highest tally for any nation since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in mid March of this year. Trump himself contracted the virus, but instead of using the opportunity to advise Americans the basic preventative measure to wear face masks, he chose to side with those declaring them useless and signs of weakness. He has used his platform to spread misinformation, denigrate health scientists, calling them idiots, and accusing doctors of manipulating COVID-19 data for personal financial gain. Trump, who behind the scenes acknowledged with his own recorded voice the severity of the virus back in February when interviewed by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, has essentially surrendered controlling the spread of COVID-19, according to his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Livelihoods are more important than lives in Trump’s America. The campaign rallies he’s held from September to election day showing maskless crowds not social distancing is loud pronouncement for the history books that huge swaths of reckless loyal supporters trusted the carnival barker more than the warnings of experts in science.
It’s the same denial of science from the planet’s biggest throwaway society that leads in disavowing protecting the biodiversity of both the USA and the planet. Mishandling of responsibility for public health with no centralized strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is only the most recent example of denying science. The USA now leads the world in denial of climate change and environmental protections ie: the slashing of EPA budgets and a rollback on efforts to combat climate change with U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. As concerning as the President’s anti-science agenda is his embracing of conspiracy theories cooked up by QAnon and against public health measures and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines.
Another argument against extending the Trump presidency is his abandonment of compassion and the American virtue of offering amnesty to refugees and migrants fleeing tyranny for a life of liberty in the U.S.A. Reducing entry to refugees to 18,000 per year from 95,000. Trump’s attempt to overturn DACA which protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths (dreamers) from deportation. A brutal policy to empower ICE to deport all undocumented migrants with a practice of family separation incarcerating parents and sending children to shelters, shelters that some of which have been identified as cages. Just two weeks before election day court documents reported parents of 545 of the migrant children still have not been reunited with detained children. Further to this, the US knowingly deported migrants infected with COVID-19.
Then there is the President’s misogyny, dog whistles, racism and support of white supremacy. “Very fine people on both sides”, he was quoted as saying following the white supremacy clashes in Charlottesville. He condemned football players for taking a knee in their protest against white supremacy. Trump discriminated against Mexicans in declaring them racists, and bad hombres, as he ran for President and continued an assault against Mexicans and Latin Americans in general for promising and pursuing to build a wall along the U.S-Mexican border. A travel ban on Muslims. Prejudice against Chinese by attempting to rename COVID-19 “Kung Flu” and “Chinese virus”. Trump has defended Confederate symbols and has casted protesters marching in the name of Black Lives Matters as traitors. In the first Presidential debate he even went so far as to issue coded messages to the Proud Boys sowing fear over notions that Democrats are rigging election polling stations.
In summarizing the past 4 years of the Trump era one cannot count out the President’s trademark denigration of traditional U.S. allies, democratic institutions and cozying up to dictators and authoritarian regimes. Just a few months before the 2020 election and a month after signing the USMCA (formerly NAFTA) trade deal Trump slapped tariffs on Cdn aluminum imports, declaring with slander, “Canada tried to take advantage of us, as usual.” US/Canada relations have never been this bad, as in the case of ties with the UK, France, Germany, the G7, the EU, NATO, the UN, WHO etc. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest diplomatic feat is cozying up with Kim Jong Un, leader of the most repressive nation on the planet. There’s cozying up with the ever increasingly repressive Saudis. Then there’s Russia, who Trump continues to deny intervened to assist him in the 2016 U.S. elections. The bizarre behaviour of Donald Trump’s fawning for the autocratic Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has divided observers between those scratching their heads, and the rest, his supporters shrugging their shoulders.
Donald Trump has polarized an already badly polarized United States. While political divisions have intensified over the last three decades, Trump has fuelled it by using his office to ingratiate his base and to denigrate his opponents and counterparts. He has not used the presidency to unite American citizens but has instead used it as a blow horn to belittle democratic states, mayors, and even federal officials like the respected long serving director of Infectious Diseases Institue, Dr. Anthony (FIRE) Fauci, have been misquoted and attacked for not cow towing to Trump’s livelihoods over lives policies. He has publicly insulted those from his own side of the bench, including Republican Senators, and a revolving door of cabinet secretaries who dared to challenge the boss’s wisdom. Then there’s a personal obsession of undoing the accomplishments of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, earnestly embarked upon for the past 4 years. This comes as little surprise given Trump’s years in his own pursuit of office pushing conspiracy theories asserting Obama’s foreign birth. Despite his efforts to drag down and bury the record of America’s first black President, Trump has been unable to strike down Obama’s landmark act expanding affordable care. Yet, even amidst a pandemic that has forced millions out of work and off private health insurance Trump, has led the Republican charge to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something unknown yet promised since 2016. Though his ardent supporters will privately loathe and then turn deaf ears on his bad behaviour, he has lived up to delivering on a key promise, like some useful idiot, to transform the highest court to conservative favour. Trump’s luck of appointing three Supreme Court justices, most recently Amy Coney Barrett, may be his most enduring legacy dialing back progressive laws for years to come, the soonest being health care for all.
“Drain the Swamp”, was and still is election mantra that only applies to corruption among those appointees and office holders predating the Trump era. With the blatant cronyism, enriching wealthy Trump donors with agency directorships, ambassadorships, and cabinet positions; with rampant nepotism, handing power over to a younger generation of dislikable Trumps; With the bending of rules, clogging up the courts with cases against him, keeping Trump’s Tax Returns secret, his private holdings and properties entangled as venues for government services the dirty dealings in D.C. are just as bad if not worse than ever.
On the eve of the 2020 election, the stakes have been planted sealing a Trump legacy for years to come whether he loses or not. The national polls give Biden a 10-point lead over Trump and have for weeks. Half the lead gap went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, which gave her a larger popular vote than Trump. Democrats who didn’t vote then are likely to show up for Biden, especially among African Americans, suburban women, and older and younger voters. Add to that the so-called ‘Never Trumper” Republicans, and those displaced in the economy due to the pandemic, as well as those friends and family whose loved ones died from an infectious disease the President failed to take seriously. With this, one could, one should, easily predict these are the final days for Trump, Tweeter-in-Chief. The calculus matters the most in the electoral college, and observers are challenged knowing how numbers will turn out in the battleground states with huge advance poll voting and an unknown election day turnout for the most infectious country in the pandemic. Will we see Biden landslide? Will America side with Trump? Will right wing militias take to the streets in a Biden win? Will progressive protesters take to the streets in a Trump win? These are uneasy and worrisome hours, but a definitive Biden victory would be the best outcome, and permanently close down the Trump News Buffet.